Hello everyone and welcome to episode 87. Today we talk about a New Year’s resolution that will go a long way to deepening your relationships.

I’m guessing it’s a New Year’s resolution you have never heard of before. In fact, I’d bet the farm on it, if I had a farm, that is. And even though we’re 13 days into the new year, it’s not too late to start implementing this resolution. And once you put it into practice, you’ll find it reaps rewards that will motivate you to keep up your resolve for the rest of the year.  It's a relational New Year's resolution.

The New Year’s relational resolution

Make it your goal to receive “Thank You” cards or notes for the rest of 2021.

The backstory and why do this

I came across this idea from Pat Flynn, and his goal for his business goal, to get thank you notes from his clients. Bulletin board full of them.

I started noticing a few “Thank You” notes I was getting, and how motivating these are for me to keep doing whatever it is I did that caused someone to put their appreciation in writing.

We’re all a little bit like Pavlov’s dogs. Positive reinforcement encourages positive behavior. As a teacher, a discipline technique was, “Catch your kids doing something positive, and then reward that behavior with a positive comment.” It works better than negative reinforcement.

An example

Emptying our dishwasher in the morning makes my wife Janet happy. I didn’t know how much she disliked doing this. When she started thanking me, I started doing it more often.

When you put this New Year’s resolution into practice it will be a means of living out Romans 12:10, where we are told to “take delight in honoring others.” It will certainly delight us when we do something that honors someone to the point they put their appreciation in writing.

I like the fact that this New Year’s relational resolution of receiving thank you notes is something you can measure. It’s tangible. It would be fun to have a contest to see which of our listeners got the most thank you notes. We won’t do that, but I would really like to hear from you and what you did that prompted someone to send you an expression of their gratitude.

How do I do this?

Ask God to show you whom to bless, whom to be kind to, whom to care for. Do for one what you wish you could do for all (Andy Stanley)

To receive a “thank you” note, you have to do something pretty meaningful for someone to make the effort to show their appreciation in this way. In the age we live in, where electronic communication is the norm, for someone to use an older technology like writing a note, requires more of that person.

But it’s this older technology that will get your attention and be more meaningful because of the work involved for the sender. A written thank you note will mean something. It’s a significant marker.

Story of my recruiting days: Mailing resumes – then faxing them – now emailing them. At times we use the older technology to get attention.

Whatever we do for someone to elicit their gratitude requires that we be keen observers of people. We need to have some degree of understanding about that person. What makes them tick? What's their love language?

Lastly, keeping this New Year’s relational resolution will bring out the best in you. And the best in the recipient of your meaningful behavior.

Two more examples

The card from L_____… 11 months after the class.

Just a few weeks ago I got one from one of our podcast listeners, along with a check as a donation to our missionary care ministry, Caring for Others, that sponsors this podcast. On the memo line they wrote, “Thank you!”

The “thank you” note I sent to the street department for cleaning out the leaves from our culvert. No response, don’t know who saw it at the city. But it was good for me. I thought about life from their perspective. You shouldn’t expect a “thank you” to your “thank you.”

If you forget everything else, here’s the one thing I hope you remember from today’s episode.

Do something significant for someone that will prompt the person to send you a thank you note. Do it at least once a month. Make this your relational New Year’s resolution.

Here are a few ideas for how to respond to today’s program.

Start by doing something meaningful for the people closest to you. It’s so easy to take people for granted who are nearest to us. Ask God to show you what that person needs from you right now. Ask God what you should do for that person.

Then start noticing people who are kind to you, and to others. Then send them a thank you note for what you appreciated about their behavior.

As always, another thing you could do is let me and your fellow listeners know what resonated with you about today’s episode. You can put your thoughts in an email and send them to me, john@caringforothers.org. Or you can share your thoughts in the “Leave a Reply” box at the bottom of the show notes.

Finally, if you’re an over-achiever and looking for another New Year’s resolution to tackle in 2021, check out this blog post I wrote a year ago: The ONE New Year’s Resolution that Makes the Others Possible.

If you missed the last two episodes, one to end 2020 and the other to start 2021, they’re both about joy. If you could use a little joy right now, click on these links:

085: Finding Joy at the End of 2020
086: How to Begin the Year with Joy


I hope your thinking was stimulated by today’s show, to both reflect and to act. So that you will find the joy God intends for you through your relationships. Because after all, You Were Made for This.

That’s all for today. See you next week. Goodbye for now.

You Were Made for This is sponsored by Caring for Others, a missionary care ministry. We depend upon the generosity of donors to pay our bills.  If you'd like to support what we do with a secure tax-deductible donation, please click here. We'd be so grateful if you did.